Are you wondering what the heck galactagogues are? Well, my friend, they are substances that increase milk supply in a lactating women! Who knew? Now you do!
There are two main types of galactagogues…
Prescription medicines used as galactagogues are generally a dopamine antagonist (inhibiting) drug. High levels of dopamine can inhibit prolactin levels, which aids in normal lactation. In other words,…
↑dopamine→ ↓prolactin→ ↓milk
↓dopamine→ ↑prolactin→ ↑milk
So, by blocking dopamine in the body, it allows for increased levels of prolactin to be present, allowing (hopefully) for increased milk. Make sense? I hope so, if not check it out here for another explanation. These medicines include Domperidone, Metoclopramide (Reglan), and Sulpiride. Domperidone has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be safe for use in nursing mothers and as a L1 Lactation Risk (safest). Although, it is approved by the AAP, it is not available in the U.S. because of a FDA warning against it. Reglan, however is available in the U.S., but is not AAP approved and boasts a L2 Lactation Risk (safer). Reglan has been shown to cause depression and is contraindicated for anyone at risk for depression and all adoptive parents. Sulpiride has been used in other parts of the world and works by increasing serum prolactin levels. It is primarily prescribed for schizophrenia. It also has a L2 Lactation Risk and is not AAP approved for nursing mothers.
Herbal galactagogues are very common among nursing mothers, there are boatloads of them, many just old wives tales and some that help increase milk supply for some mothers. Most see an increase in supply within 72 hours of taking an herbal remedy, but some may not see a change for up to 2 weeks. Herbal galactagogues include, but are not limited to…
- Fenugreek (very commonly used)
- Milk Thistle
- Fennel Seeds
- Beer (or the barley in beer)…alcohol may actually reduce milk production
- And on and on and on!
Ask any mother who has ever nursed and she will probably be able to tell you some remedy she has been told to try for increased milk supply. There are a trillion opinions out there about what will and will not work to increase milk production, but it is very important to start with all non-medicinal/non-herbal options first. For example, increased baby time at breast, increased pumping, making sure you are hydrated, etc..
I personally have never tried any medicinal or herbal remedy to increase my milk production, so I can not tell you what has worked for me, I did however have one breast that seemed to have an increased production over the other and I would pump the breast with the lower supply after Jackson would feed from it to try to even out my supply. It worked or maybe my body just figured things out, who knows?!
What is your take on galactagogues? Have you tried any? What worked for you? Do you ever recommend them to other nursing mothers?